A BILLION euro order for 40 high-speed trainsets including 20 sleeper trains was signed by China's Ministry of Railways and manufacturer Bombardier Sifang Power (Qingdao) Transportation Ltd on October 31.

The 16-car electric multiple-units will be 430 m long and capable of speeds up to 250 km/h. The order includes 20 EMUs fitted out for overnight sleeper services, which Bombardier said will be the first EMU sleeping cars capable of operation at speeds of up to 250 km/h. The remaining 20 EMUs will be 16-car versions of eight-car CRH1 trains from Bombardier's 'Zefiro' family which are now being delivered to Chinese Railways under orders placed in October 2004 and May 2005.

The new trains will be built at the Qingdao plant of BSP, a joint venture of Bombardier Transportation, Power Corp of Canada and China South Locomotive & Rolling Stock Industry Group Corp. Bombardier values its share of what the company called China's 'largest single order for rail passenger cars placed at one time' at €413m. Bombardier Mitrac propulsion systems will be produced jointly by the Bombardier CPC Propulsion System Co Ltd joint venture in Changzhou, and Bombardier facilities in Europe.

Deliveries of the new trains will begin in February 2009, with the final unit expected to be handed over in August 2010.

The contract signing on October 31 was witnessed by Zhang Shuguang, Deputy Chief Engineer of the Ministry of Railways and Director General of the Transportation Bureau, and Laurent Beaudoin, Chairman & CEO of Bombardier Inc.